Local filmmakers shine

New fest director finalizes plans

MEXICO CITY — Despite management upheaval, the 17th Guadalajara Showcase of Mexican Film unspools March 8-14 with a broad range of local productions, a new competish for Ibero-American pics and its first cash prizes.

Fest is now in the hands of director Kenya Marquez, who has been on the job only one month. She was previously employed in the fest marketing department, and took over in January after Enrique Ortiga ankled the post after just four months — and he was the third director in as many years.

A fest statement cited conflicts with his job as associate producer of communications at indie production house Titan. Ortiga did not respond to queries for comment.

Although the turmoil has taken its toll on the Showcase’s credibility, it remains Mexico’s only truly national film fest and most local industryites are still eager to attend.

Eleven local productions will compete in the official Mexican feature categories and competition for the cash prize of around $17,000 for best director.

Pics include Nicolas Echevarria’s dark romance “Vivir Mata” (Life Kills), which went to the top of the box office charts when it bowed nationally on Feb. 1.

Fest spokeswoman Graciela Alonso Vazquez says a ban on films already released commercially would be strictly enforced next year.

The other Mexican features are Fernando Sarinana’s “Ciudades Oscuras” (Dark Cities), Ignacio Ortiz’s “Cuentos de Hadas Para Dormir Cocodrilos” (Bedtime Stories for Crocodiles), Eva Lopez-Sanchez’s “De Que Lado Estas?” (Where Are You?), Juan Antonio de la Riva’s “El Gavilan de la Sierra” (The Sparrow Hawk of the Sierra), Beto Gomez’s “El Sueno del Caiman” (The Cayman’s Dream), Dana Rotberg’s “Otilia Rauda,” Leopoldo Laborde’s “Sin Destino” (Without Destiny), Marcel Sisniega’s “Una de Dos” (One of Two), Juan Carlos Martin’s documentary “Gabriel Orozco” and Francisco Athie’s “Vera.”

Another 14 films will compete in the newly created Ibero-American category, a move organizers hope will raise the fest’s international profile. Best Ibero-American director will receive $11,000.

Selection ranges from Argentine singer-songwriter Fito Paez’ directorial debut “Vidas Privadas” (Private Lives); Brazilian Beto Brant’s thriller “O Invasor” (The Invader); and, from Spain, Luis Prieto’s “Bamboleho” about a poor youngster’s initiation into a life of crime.

The Guadalajara fest is further aiming to bring in buyers, who have been scarce in recent years, having invited 26 reps from companies including Fine Line Features, Canal Plus and Spain’s Lola Films Intl.

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